Water Service Tips

Water Service Tips

Your New Water Service

North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD) staff provide a ¾” (19 mm) water service to your property line to provide access to clean, potable water supplied from either Maxwell Lake or St. Mary’s Lake.  To provide water to your property, effort and expense has been expended to ensure a quality product is delivered to you.  The water at your property is the product of good engineering, professionally trained and certified staff, quality infrastructure components and Mother Nature.

As water is a vital and finite resource, NSSWD is diligent in ensuring water is provided economically, efficiently, and that “not a drop is wasted”.  Up to and including the water meter provided with the service connection, NSSWD is responsible for the water and equipment.  After the water meter, a custody transfer takes place and the water becomes yours. Components of the water service downstream of the water meter are the home owner’s responsibility.  Your water service comes with a responsibility to ensure that all your water is used wisely and economically, and that “not a drop is wasted”.

NSSWD has provided the following tips and suggestions to ensure that the water service on your property provides dependable and long-lasting service, minimizes the expense and inconvenience of leaks and provides the best performance for your overall satisfaction.  The local CRD Building Inspection Department provides permitting and inspection requirements for service pipe installation and plumbing.

Service Piping and Installation Recommendations

Flexible polyethylene piping

Different piping materials are available and may be approved by the local Building Inspection Department as being suitable, but NSSWD recommends the use of polyethylene municipal service tubing, series 160 / 200 as being the longest lasting and most suitable for household water service.  This is the same service tubing as used by the District to provide water from the water main to your property.

Have a good quality shut off valve installed immediately downstream of the water meter installation.  This will become your valve to isolate the entire service line to your house in the event of emergency or required shut off.  It is illegal for you or a contractor to operate or interfere with equipment located inside the water meter box as it is the property of the NSSWD.  A requirement for a water shut-off by the District has associated charges attached.  Ensure your shut off valve is accessible to operate and exercise the valve periodically.  If you are leaving your property unattended, get in the practice of shutting off your water prior to departure.

Ensure that all fittings and valves are good quality and rated for in ground service.  Absolutely avoid the use of galvanized pipe fittings.  Use fittings that utilize a compression style joint.  Bronze fittings, water works brass or stainless steel are best.  If PVC fittings are used, ensure that schedule 80 is used.  PEX fittings are not recommended by District

Ensure that there is adequate depth of cover over the service piping.  Typically, 24” (600 mm) is satisfactory.  Be aware of landscaping or regrading of ground levels which may alter the finished depth of the piping.  Good practice is to provide a cushioning layer of sand or rock free granular material underneath and over top of the piping to act as protective bedding.  3” (75 mm) bedding underneath and 6” (150 mm) on top will provide suitable protection against physical damage from backfill rocks.

If your water service line is going to be going underneath a driveway or paved parking area, consider installing the service piping within a larger pipe “sleeve” to allow future replacement or repair without disrupting the finished area as well as providing further protection to the service line piping.

The size of your service piping is important.  If the distance from the water meter to your house is more than 100 ‘ (30 meters) consider upsizing your service piping to 1” (25 mm ) from ¾” (19 mm).  As water flows through the service piping it will lose pressure due to friction, resulting in less pressure at your house.  A larger pipe will minimize these pressure losses over longer runs of piping.

After the installation of your service line piping a pressure/leak test is highly recommended.

Pressure and Other Considerations

NSSWD provides system pressure to serve all customers. Reducing system pressure to one property would mean others at a higher elevation could or would not have adequate service, while if we were to raise it too much to serve higher properties, it would mean excessive pressure at lower elevations.

NSSWD provides water service and water pressure to the property line.  Typically, pressure available at the property line is in the 25 – 75 psi range.  If the point of use of the water service within the property is higher or lower in elevation, this will result in a subsequent decrease or increase in pressure at the point of use.

Low Pressure at Property Line

If the available pressure at the property line is low, and the point of use is higher in elevation, use of a booster pump to increase pressure could be considered.  If a booster pump to increase pressure is utilized, location of the pumping unit is important – that is, the pumping unit will need a positive pressure to ensure reliable pressure boosting.

Higher Pressure at Property Line

If the pressure at the property line is higher, and the point of use is lower in elevation, a pressure reduction device should be incorporated.  If the pressure at the property line is greater than 75 psi, and the point of use elevation is the same or lower, a pressure reduction device should be incorporated anyway.  The pressure reduction device is the property of and responsibility of the property owner.  Pressure reducing devices should not be buried but be contained within an enclosure, accessible.  District staff are able to provide information as to expected water pressure at the property line.

Keep records – Documentation of pipe and valve locations is always a good thing.  A simple drawing with measurements or offsets will prove invaluable in the future for locating the water service line.  Include pipe size, type, depth of bury and valve or fitting locations if possible.

Ensuring Satisfactory Operation

Get to know how to read your water meter.  The District normally reads your meter every two months for billing purposes.  Feel free to read your water meter more frequently in order to be aware of leaks and what normal usage is for you.  By being aware of water usage, you will naturally conserve the amount used.  District staff will be happy to show you how to read your meter and calculate the volume of water used.

Exercise and operate all your shut off valves periodically to keep devices in good condition and prevent them from getting “frozen” or stuck.

Periodically check your point of use pressure to ensure the correct operation of any pressure reducing or pressure increasing devices (if installed).

Going Away?

  • Turn off your water at your home’s shut-off valve or use the District’s turn off/on service to have your service shut off at the meter.
  • Drain your hot water heater.
  • Have someone check on your property at least every 2-3 days.  Make sure they know where the shut-off valve is.
  • Provide the District with an on-island emergency contact number so if we notice a problem we can alert them (and you) if necessary.
  • Make sure all outside fixtures are shut-off and drained.
  • Make sure your pipes are properly winterized to prevent freezing.

Helpful Information Links

Polyethylene Piping Systems Field Manual for Municipal Systems

Polyethylene Water Service – Pipe and Tube Installation Guide
There are also many videos available on YouTube.  Search for a topic such as  “Installing small, underground waterlines, meter to house”